It is important to remind ourselves the meaning of this day, May First. It is important to understand and know that today is May day, a holiday that began in the 1880’s in the U. S. – and is now commemorated all over the world – but was purposely excluded in the U. S. by those in power – for what it represents – a day to commemorate working people internationally..
This day is historic – and commemorates the fight for an eight-hour work day – led by a Mexicana woman, Lucy Gonzalez and her husband Albert Parsons back in the 1880’s – commemorates the killing of strikers by the police in the Chicago McCormick Reaper Workers factory – commemorates the mass demonstrations of workers in Chicago’s Haymarket Square to protest the killings of these strikers — and is a legacy for reflecting on the struggles and accomplishments of the people who pick our food, construct our houses, make our clothes.
It now is a historic day to remember the million who marched in Los Angeles in 2006 against the Sensenbrenner bill – for immigrant rights – and began a historic wave of demonstrations – and get out the vote drives that have now turned California from a state that was anti-immigrant – to one who is now the model nationally for immigrant rights. It was not that long ago that the voters supported Proposition 187, Prop 209, and English Only policies in California. Today, the majority of voters support legalization. Brothers and Sisters, because of you and your organizing – California is now becoming a sanctuary state for our immigrant brothers and sisters.
Because of your organizing efforts – in this state – we have challenged the federal government’s immigration enforcement policies and have passed legislation supporting: cities opting out of e-verify, the right of undocumented students to attend college with financial aid, the right of anyone stopped at a checkpoint to call a friend or relative with a license to pick up their car, and the passing of AB 60 that will allow our immigrant brothers and sisters to obtain a driver’s license. We continue to work today to pass SB 1005 – a bill that gives the right to health care regardless of immigration status – and to work for COPA – a proposed bill, AB 2014 that will give qualified undocumented immigrants who pay state income taxes to receive relief from federal enforcement.
This May Day we celebrate many victories. It was one year ago today that I was here urging you to join a protest of the firing of 17 undocumented dining hall workers at Pomona College who were targeted — clearly – when the workers were in the process of organizing a union. Today, those workers are unionized and the leader of that particular struggle, has been rehired.
In the tradition of May Day, let us continue to stop enforcement policies that are resulting in the largest deportations in history. We call on President Obama to use his executive power to immediately stop the deportations and to support legalization proposals that will immediately lead to permanent residency and citizenship – with no expansion of temporary guest worker (bracero) programs and with labor law protections.